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The four cardinal sins of working out

If you’ve been regular at the gym for four weeks in a row and are failing to see any major results, you may be falling prey to one of the following common mistakes.

Print Edition: September 7, 2008

Jamal Shaikh
Jamal Shaikh
It is normal for regular gym goers to go through cyclic on-and off phases towards their commitment to working out. But if you’ve been regular at the gym for four weeks in a row and are failing to see any major results, you may be falling prey to one of the following common mistakes. The good news: some simple tweaks can help you achieve great results and get the body you’ve always wanted.

1 Eating up: Having heard so much about food being the body’s fuel, several people ensure they’ve had enough to eat before they head for the gym. This is a good thing, but needs regulation. For instance, if you’re headed for your workout in the evening, and are feeling peckish at 4 p.m. despite a decent lunch, you’d not hesitate calling for a mayo-rich chicken/veg sandwich, thinking, “What the heck! I’ll burn it off!” That’s not true. While your metabolism may get faster after your workout, it will still take longer to burn off the fat.

Quick fix: Keep a handful of nuts handy to take care of those cravings. If you’re at an intermediate stage of working out, have a protein shake if possible.

2 Tanking up: The sheer number of new energy drinks, and clever marketing, has made it almost cool for a gymmer to carry a drink as he goes from exercise machine to exercise machine. Few realise how many empty calories they’re consuming.

Quick fix: Keep a bottle of water handy. Hydration is often the only purpose a sports drink serves.

3 Treadmill tactics: If you think running on the treadmill is giving you no results, check the incline. For your workout to equal running on solid ground, the treadmill must be set at an incline of at least 3.0. And contrary to popular perception, this isn’t going to be especially harmful for your knees.

Quick fix: Bump up the incline even if it means slowing your speed. Variety is the spice of a workout.

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4 The plateau: Your mirror may not reflect it just yet, but your body is an advanced piece of machinery. It can get used to the most rigourous workout easily. So, it’s important to keeping changing even basic exercises. Juggle the treadmill with the cross trainer, or the cycle, or just bunk the gym and go for a swim instead. You’ll tire out more, and you know the rule: more sweat equals to a better workout.

Quick fix: Get a heart rate monitor. Keeping your target between 60 and 80 per cent of your max heart rate is a sure fire way of knowing your workout’s going to show results. (FYI, your max heart rate=220 minus your age.)

Once you start avoiding these basic mistakes at the gym, we’ll get around to telling you the rules that you Must break to achieve quick results in the next column. After all the hard work, doesn’t that sound like fun?

Jamal Shaikh

Jamal Shaikh is Editor, Men’sHealth

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